- Van Horne Avenue apartment fire claims second victim
Firefighting officials in Montreal are admitting they mishandled the response to a deadly building fire that killed two women this week.
The second of several victims injured in the Van Horne Avenue apartment fire died Friday in hospital.
The 26-year-old's death comes two days after another woman, 30, died in the Cote-des-Neiges district fire.
The Montreal Fire Department now says there was a mixup in dispatch orders, delaying the arrival of firefighters at the scene.
When a fire was reported at 2500 Van Horne Avenue, dispatch operators entered duplicate calls for trucks, said operations chief Gordon Routley.
It resulted in two different trucks being sent to the building.
When operators realized the duplication, they recalled one of the trucks — but ordered the one closer to the fire scene to stand down.
Software used to manage dispatches is programmed to detect duplicate calls for trucks, Routley said.
But for some reason, that didn't happen on Wednesday.
"This is the first time we know of that we've run into this particular glitch, and certainly, for this type of accident," the operations chief said.
"We dispatch 120,000 calls a year. Unfortunately this happened on a call when lives are at stake."
Chaos for residents after smoke alarms failed
Paramedics described the scene of Wednesday's fire as "panicked", with residents from 17 units scrambling to get out of the smoke-filled building.
Smoke alarms in the building cut out shortly after the fire started burning, around 2 a.m. and many people didn't hear it.
In addition to the two women who died, several children suffered smoke inhalation.
Montreal police are investigating the fire's origins. So far, it appears it was caused by an electrical problem in the basement.